Towards a functional resource-based concept for habitat: a butterfly biology viewpoint

Roger L. H. Dennis, Dept of Entomology, Manchester Museum, Manchester Univ., Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL UK and 4 Fairfax Drive, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 6EY, UK ( – Tim G. Shreeve, School of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes Univ., Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP UK. – Hans Van Dyck, Dept of Biology, Univ. of Antwerp, Belgium.


The habitat is the basic unit for developments in life history, population dynamics, landscape ecology and conservation of organisms. It is frequently treated as a particulate, invariant and homogeneous entity (a patch). Here we examine the implications of using this concept of habitat in butterfly biology. In doing so, we suggest the alternative approach of applying a functional resource-based concept of habitat. This recognises the fundamental requirements of organisms, consumables and utilities, the latter describing suitable environmental conditions as well as essential substrates. We argue that a resource-based concept is critical for butterfly conservation and call for the development of a resource database on butterfly biology.